Tags: doolittle raid | tokyo | world war II | america | japan | fdr

Remembering the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo

Remembering the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo
Lt. Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, 86, shows photo 4/13 of the B-25 bomber crew in Monterey April 14, 1983, that bombed Tokyo with him on April 18, 1942. (AP Photo/Clay Peterson)

By Tuesday, 17 April 2018 03:29 PM Current | Bio | Archive

It was April 18, 1942. Led by then-Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, sixteen B-25 bombers took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet to launch Doolittle’s Raid on Tokyo and show the Axis powers that America could strike back after Pearl Harbor.

In all, some 80 men comprised the “Doolittle Raiders,” with five men in each B-25 bomber. The Doolittle Raid on Tokyo was a dangerous mission. They left knowing that they would not have enough fuel to get back to the USS Hornet and, in fact, would have to land somewhere in China with the hopes that the Chinese would get them back to safety. In order to carry as much fuel as possible, the Doolittle Raiders removed the tail gun from their B-25 bombers and installed broomsticks, painted like machineguns, in hopes that it might have some kind of effect on pursuing Japanese fighter aircraft. Five of the Doolittle Raiders died in crashes, eight were captured by the Japanese including three who were executed, and one Doolittle Raider died while a Japanese prisoner. Each of the Doolittle Raiders received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, who thought the mission was a failure and he would be court-martialed, wound up receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor and being promoted two ranks to brigadier general. The Doolittle Raid bombed military and industrial targets in Tokyo and other sites. It took the Japanese completely by surprise, and as a result, the Japanese military had to divert resources from other areas to protect their homeland.

After the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, American morale was at an all-time low. President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt that America had to strike back and strike back quickly. Roosevelt felt it was essential to both boost the morale of the American people, and to show the Japanese and the Axis powers that America could get back up on its feet quickly and strike them in their homeland. While meeting with his top military brass at the White House in late December, FDR tasked them to come up with a plan to bomb Japan as soon as possible. Doolittle, a pioneer in American aviation, was quickly selected to lead the secret mission. Doolittle put out a call for volunteers to the best of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), which had just changed its name from the United States Army Air Corps. The call for volunteers was simple — “Volunteers needed for dangerous secret mission.” Seventy-nine of America’s “finest generation” volunteered to join Doolittle on the historic mission which would boost the morale of the American people. The Doolittle Raiders met in Columbia, South Carolina, at Columbia Army Air Base and conducted training and other preparation in the South Carolina Midlands for the raid on Tokyo.

On April 18, 1992, Columbia, South Carolina, hosted the 50th anniversary of the Doolittle Raiders’ historic raid on Tokyo. It is important to remember that when the “Doolittle Raid” occurred, the Air Force had not been formed, and the Raiders were part of the United States Army. The Secretary of the Army, the late Mike Stone, was asked to give the keynote address on behalf of the U.S. Army. Stone was a good man and someone I greatly admired. He was a patriot who had actually served as an aviator himself with the British Royal Navy during World War II. Unfortunately, Stone came down with the flu a few days before the event and asked me to fill in. I was serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army at the time, but I think the real reason he wanted me to do it was because he knew that I was a native of South Carolina. In looking back, it was one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to meet and talk with the Doolittle Raiders. They were extraordinary men who exemplified selfless service and true patriotism. I will never forget the opening event when we all stood to recognize the Doolittle Raiders as they came in, one-by-one. Some were in wheelchairs, others aided by walkers, and some made use of a cane. When the last Doolittle Raider had made it to the stage, we heard a noise and looked up into the sky. Out of the clouds came an old B-25 that flew right over us to honor the Doolittle Raiders. It is a moment that I will never forget.

The Doolittle Raiders were special men of uncommon valor who embodied the best of America and the American spirit. On this anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, all Americans owe a debt of gratitude to each of the Doolittle Raiders for their sacrifice, commitment to duty, and love of country. As General Doolittle put it himself, “There is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.” And America has been blessed, since its beginning, to have volunteers with the heart of a Doolittle Raider.

Van Hipp is chairman of American Defense International, Inc. (ADI), a Washington, D.C. consulting firm. He is former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, and served on the Presidential Electoral College in 1988. He is the author of "The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It." To read more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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It was April 18, 1942. Led by then-Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, sixteen B-25 bombers took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet to launch Doolittle’s Raid on Tokyo and show the Axis powers that America could strike back after Pearl Harbor.
doolittle raid, tokyo, world war II, america, japan, fdr
Tuesday, 17 April 2018 03:29 PM
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